Many Christians are expecting “The Rapture” any day now, or even any moment! They believe this is promised in the Bible. This teaching is based on I Thessalonians 4:17:
1Thessalonians 4:17 KJV “Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
There is historical evidence that this was fulfilled for the Thessalonians during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But that was not the only, nor the final “catching away.”
However, this Scripture in the King James Version of the Bible is about a “catching away,” not a “rapture.” The Greek word used here is arpatso meaning “to snatch away, to carry off.” We find this word used also of Paul, being “caught away” to the “third heaven,” II Corinthians 12:1- 4:
“It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”
This same word is also used of Philip in Acts 8:39, 40: ” “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.”
From these references we see that the modern teaching of “the rapture” is not at all about this same thing. Paul and Philip were caught away in the Spirit, but were bodily present on earth afterwards. This same phenomenon is also happening in our present day. We have testimonies of this happening in the Arab nations where the life of the Christian is at stake and they are bodily transferred to another place. We have the testimony also of John G. Lake of his being translated from Africa to England, healing an insane woman, and “found” back in Africa, (*John G. Lake, His LIfe, His Sermons, His Boldness of Faith.)
The evidence is that there were several incidents in the Bible of saints being “caught away.” The good news is that God can, and will “catch away” His saints whenever He desires. Praise the Lord. It is not just a one-time event to happen world wide at some future time.
We often hear the word “rapture” used to describe a future, world-wide “catching away.” However, although the word ‘rapture’ is not in the Bible, I Peter 1:8 describes the feeling as: “… joy unspeakable and full of glory.“
The root of the word ‘rapture’ is ‘rapt,’ meaning: “transported with emotion; enraptured, as to be rapt with joy.” This rapture can and does happen whenever and wherever saints of God will seek Him with a whole heart. That means to repent, surrender, dedicate, consecrate oneself wholly to the Lord. I experienced this when I was seeking to be filled with the Spirit. It has been a rare experience for me, but I am aware that it can and does happen to we mortals while we wait for the final and complete transport, when our Spirit leaves the body.
Good News! Jesus is not gone! He is here! and will never leave us nor forsake us: Hebrews 13:5: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have , for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”
Yes, he did leave for “a little while” in the crucifixion, but he returned after three days and three nights, John 14:1-3. That was his “second coming,” his “coming again.” which he promised. He came in bodily form that still bore the scars in his hands and side. His disciples had no doubt but that it was He, Himself.
Then read carefully John chapters 16-17, how he promised to come to them along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, Acts chapter 2. He came and manifested himself to them in unmistakable ways. He could materialize or de-materialize. He could enter a room without opening the door. He could appear in material form to them so that they could touch and handle his body.
So He came and he has never left us! He is “omnipresent,” meaning he can be everywhere at once! He is now not limited to a material, physical body. He is now in his glorified body, and will always be with us, and even “In” us! This is so much better than a return where he would again and be limited in time and space.
Hallelujah! He gave us power: “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” That’s what we must still be doing, so long as there are unsaved sinners in this world! That is our great privilege and our Blessed Hope!